"Sleep-Driving" Allegations Unsupported by Scientific Evidence, Court Finds

U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky

A woman who crashed her car into a utility pole sued sanofi-aventis, alleging that sleep-aid Ambien® had caused her to "sleep-drive." Shook attorneys obtained summary judgment after arguing that the woman's experts based their conclusions that she had been "sleep-driving" on anecdotal reports, which the court found did not rely on a matter of scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge that would aid comprehension.

The woman also contradicted her own claim of failure to warn when she admitted that she had not read the product materials that accompanied her prescription, which listed somnambulism as a possible but rare event and instructed her to only take Ambien® directly before intending to sleep. In addition, when she was admitted to the hospital that evening, she said she had been driving there because she was experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath, which could have caused her to lose control of the car. Gibson v. sanofi-aventis, U.S., No. 3:07CV192S, slip op. (W.D. Ky. Oct. 27, 2009).

In selecting Shook as its Product Liability Litigation Department of the Year in 2008, The American Lawyer cited this case as one of the reasons Shook has “become a go-to firm for major pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.”